When all the odds seems to be against you, yes you can win!

In the summer of 2002 the start of a new football season was approaching. There was over 25 boys aged under 8 fighting for 11 positions in a football squad. It was apparent that there was going to be a lot of sad boys for the ones that never made it. Through much deliberation it was decided that there should be two teams as there was enough to do so. The way it was decided really turned my stomach as the ones who never made the first first squad were thrown together in the a second team. This team was for what appeared to be the rejects. For the ones that were discarded The thought that entered my head was how life can treat some people as if they are thrown on the scrap heap. 

 

My son was one of the ones who never made the grade and all he wanted to do was to play football. As a father it hurt me to see his young face looking so sad as he never made it. That’s where it started, the torch was lit. I decided to step up and put myself forward to manage the team even though I had never done anything like this before. So now we had a team of so called misfits and a manager that had never done anything like this before. It was time for the hard work begin. The first steps were to look at what we had which seemed like not a lot. We identified where everyone could play and just went to work. Luckily another parent stepped up with me and decided to help even though he had no experience either.

 

We decided that we had to get a team synergy going straight away. So we decided that the only way to do this was to approach it with a positive attitude in order to put a smile on their faces. At training we built great relationships with the team. We focused on team spirit. We only ever encouraged them and never allowed any criticism or negative words to be spoken to each other. They soon got the message, as young boys at the age of 8 they learnt quickly.

 

We programmed their minds think only positive thoughts. Never saying I can’t but only focusing on I can. As we said “Cans don't come in cants.” Straight away we programmed their minds with mental pictures of what it would be like to win a trophy in a cup final on a hot summers day. We painted pictures with them of what it would be like to win a trophy in great detail. 
The first games that we played in the league we lost. But then it was as if something just clicked we discovered that we could win. We swapped a few players around and identified who our star player was and built a team around him.

 

We used powerful self-talk statements which helped the team such as:

 

·         “if we play as a team, we win as a team”

·          “winners never quit and quitters never win"

·         ” If it is to be its up to me”

·         “ who's going to step up to the plate”

 

After battling through in our first season we made it through to a cup final. Yes it was as we had  described. The weather was bright and sunny, it was a perfect day for a cup final. All of the parents and friends of the team were on the side-lines. There must have been over 50 people supporting our team. I remember leading them onto the pitch and looking at their little faces as they walked behind me. They lined up in front of their fans and shook the official’s hands. This was one of the proudest days of my life. I had lots of lumps in my throat and tears in my eyes as we  had actually achieved our goal. 

 

Kick off and the opposition started well. They finished 4th place in the league and we had finished 2nd. They scored first and I thought that my teams heads would go down. But no theses little boys had mind sets full of positivity and had developed a winning mentality. Then a break through my son scored the equaliser with a shot from outside of the box. Yes a bigger lump developed in my throat. So at half time it was neck and neck. We filled them up with even more belief. Eventually we won the match 3–1 and yes the day that we had programmed them with months before had come true. Victory was ours. I must say that that lump in my throat was now gone and had turned into a continuous flow of tears down my cheeks. We lifted the cup and had achieved what we set out to do.

 

When we formed this team we set out to make people realise that we were not rejects but we were somebody. Driving back home in my car with my son holding the trophy aloft in his hands whilst putting his head through the sunroof and seeing the smile on his face while he was doing it. That moment was priceless it was absolutely priceless and was worth all of the hard work that we put In. That season our first season and we had won a cup and finished second in the league. I won manager of the year for all age groups at the club which was Croydon FC. Just to conclude in my opinion no one has the right to label someone as a reject. There are no rejects just people who have to work a bit harder to make the grade.  

 

 Anyone can be successful if you have the desire to do so. All it takes is:

 

·         A clear vision

·         A plan

·         Work

·         Passion

·         Desire

·         Positive attitude

·         Persistence and perseverance

 

 

That team went on to form the foundation of another team that went onto win multiple trophies for 5 seasons and became one of the most successful teams after transferring from Croydon FC to Whyteleafe FC.

 

“Winning is not everything but the will to win is”

Vince Lombardi